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Need validator - Validate assumptions about users' unmet needs

This technique will enable us to validate assumptions of what might be the unmet needs of our targeted users.

We will do that in 3 consecutive phases and 8 steps:

  • A/ List the needs and identify the key questions for the interview (Step 1 to 6)
  • B/ Interview the users (Step 7)
  • C/ Reformulate the needs (Step 8)

Phase A & C should be done in a meeting (online or onsite).
B can be done on the field for several days or weeks.

1. List unmet needs

First of all, let's list all the assumptions we have about the unmet needs of our users. We should start our sentences by :

> As a [category of user], I wish I could [description of the unmet need].

Don't forget to create one new card for every unmet need.

Once all the needs have been listed, we can move on to the next step.

As a student I wish I could sleep better every night

2. Identify the reasons why

Now, let's identify the reasons why each unmet need might exist.

We can list many different reasons for each unmet need.

In order to do that, click on one unmet need, fill-in the "Reason why" section and start each reason with "I cannot because..."

Example: As a student I wish I could sleep better every night

  • I cannot because I party every night until 3 am
  • I cannot because the bed is really uncomfortable
  • I cannot because my roommate wakes up at 5 am and makes a lot of noise

3. Brainstorm a lot of questions

Now that we have a lot of hypothesis about why these needs are unmet, it is time to plan our user research.

Let's do a quick Question Storming in order to find all the questions we could ask our users to test our hypothesis.

Don't forget to follow this rules:

  • Go for quantity: write down as many questions as possible (one card per question)
  • Differ judgement: don't judge the relevance of a question at this step
  • Build on other's questions: look at what others are submitting to find new questions
  • Encourage wild questions: do not stick to top of the head questions, try to find unusual questions that will lead to new insights

Examples of questions:

  • How do you feel every morning when you wake up?
  • Is there anything that might disturb you while you sleep?
  • Can you describe your last dream?

4. Select the key questions

Now that we have many potential questions, let's select those that will enable us to validate our assumptions and gather new insights.

In order to do so, each one of you have:

  • 10 positive points to sponsor the 10 questions that you think we should ask
  • 10 negative points to the 10 questions you think we should leave aside

Try to sponsor at least 3 unusual questions. Don't worry, we will have some time to improve them.

When ready, you can move on to the next step and discuss the results.

5. Discuss results and next steps

Have a look at the top questions, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the result make sense?
  • Do we cover the full spectrum of assumptions with the top questions?
  • Should we bring back a question with less points?
  • Should we merge or reformulate some of the questions?

When this is done, we should put aside all the questions that we don't want to ask and... get prepared for the interviews!

6. Interview the users and capture the answers

Each one of us should now go on the field to interview the users and capture their answers to our questions.

After each interview, we can update the question cards by:

  • Copying and pasting the verbatims in the descriptions of each card,
  • Or, attaching to the card a file with all the answers

7. Update the unmet needs

Carefully read all the answers that we have gathered and have a look at the list of unmet needs.

  • Which unmet needs can we validate?
  • Which unmet needs should we nullify? In this case, put the card aside.
  • Which unmet needs should we reformulate or update? In this case, edit the card's title.
  • Are there any important unmet needs that are missing? In this case, add a new card.

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